State of the State
The 2008 legislative session kicked off yesterday, and among the General Assembly’s initial priorities are increases to minimum teacher salaries and the expansion of property tax relief for senior citizens.
I don’t really have a problem with expanding the property tax credit, because it mostly entails leveling the income eligibility limit between single and married taxpayers. The revenue hit would be pretty small, and it probably costs the state more when seniors are forced to sell their homes because they can’t meet their property tax obligations.
But I’m opposed to the mandatory increase in minimum teacher salaries. The proposal would increase minimum salaries from $23,000 to $31,000, which would be a boon for rural districts, where teacher salaries are generally lower than the proposed new minimum but are comparatively well paid, but would do very little for teachers in urban and suburban districts, where minimum salaries are already well above the new state minimum. For example, the lowest paying district in St. Louis County, Hancock Place, has a minimum starting teacher salary of $30,900.
And, of course, there’s no mention of merit pay, which I think would be a far better solution to increase teacher salaries. Let good teachers be rewarded for their work. Why should they only receive a raise if every other teacher does, too?